Need recommendations for a finish for a porch swing - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 6 Old 03-27-2017, 04:04 PM Thread Starter
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Need recommendations for a finish for a porch swing

I am an avid DIY'er and am generally not afraid to take on a project. I have a gorgeous handmade porch swing that was finished about 6 years with boiled linseed oil. It was looking faded, dirty, etc. so I decided to give it some TLC. I started by washing it down with a Thompson fence cleaner with a nylon brush, which removed the surface dirt but it still looked dirty. So I thought some light surface sanding might just freshen up the wood and get it ready for a new finish. But the linseed oil gummed up my sandpaper and it didn't really let me sand the wood. So I got out the paint/epoxy remover and started scrapping off all the sticky goo that is on the wood. After what seems like endless hours of applying and scrapping gummy stuff and final sanding, it is finally down to bare wood and is ready for a new finish. The swing is on the SE corner of the house so it gets morning and mid-afternoon sun, but is protected from rain under the porch. Hence, my dilemma!!! What finish to put on it!! I like the idea of the boiled linseed oil but it was so sticky in places and so gummy to get up I'm afraid to use it again!! Is it possible it was applied wrong in the first place? Not wiped down enough after application? I don't want a glossy finish but I'd like something that will last for a several years. If linseed is the best option, I'm willing to wash it down and reapply linseed oil every year or so. I'm just looking for advise/suggestions? Thank you!
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post #2 of 6 Old 03-27-2017, 05:09 PM
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Spar urethane varnish is the best for outdoor protection (UV and water) and ease of application. However you can also try epoxy based varnish (difficult to apply). See which one looks best to you.

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post #3 of 6 Old 03-27-2017, 05:18 PM
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Hi Julie,

I like the idea of the boiled linseed oil but it was so sticky in places and so gummy to get up I'm afraid to use it again!! Is it possible it was applied wrong in the first place?
Very possible and/or a poor grade of Flax Oil with too many modern petroleum additives put in it to thin it down (aka make cheaper.) Real Flax Oil finishes (aka Linseed) are one of the best easy to apply finishes there are.

I am a staunch traditionalist and find most "modern finish" really crappy at best, especially for exterior use...As I enform clients all the time..."Modern finish are only modern...they are far from being better when compared to traditional finishes."

I would also note, you can forget ever doing an easy job of refinishing anything with modern plastic finish applied to it like poly, epoxies or the related.

I make all my own finishes and/or use only natural finishes, so never recommend...modern plastic finishes on wood or masonry ever. It is even more of an issue with exterior exposure. I would recommend Heritage Finishes, which I have used for over 30 years. It is a blend of Tung Oil, Flax Oil, Beeswax, and Pine Rosin with a Citrus Oil thinner and UV stabilizer for the exterior grade material. I would note also these come from "food grade" resources with no additives, or moder petroleum distillates.

Many colleagues and project directors specify Waterlox line of products. They have only high praise for the results and I have seen little issue over the years.

For pigments, you can make your own. For example a nice gray is found in Vinegar and Steel Wool. For other pigments to add to your desired effect, Heritage Finishes sells them but my first choice for my pigments (if I don't make them myself) is The Real Milk Paint Company. Diawyne is the owner, and a wonderful resource on traditional finishes...

Hope this helps.


Last edited by 35015; 03-27-2017 at 05:40 PM.
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post #4 of 6 Old 03-27-2017, 09:04 PM
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Congrats on taking the time to get it back to bare wood. What a pain, but an essential step in creating a good base for the next finish.

The enemy is the sun. (less so the rain). The UV rays get through a clear finish and breaks the bond between the finish and the wood.

Oil finishes are easy to renew, but they don't last. They also tend to attract airborne pollutants which stick and make the wood look moldy (black).

Spar varnish lasts longer, but when it does finally fail, it's much harder to remove and re-do. If you go this route, use real spar varnish like Epifanes, not something from the big box store.

There's a third option called Semco Teak Sealer that's a silicone based sealer that looks like oil but lasts longer and doesn't attract crud. The only problem is that the silicone can make it nearly impossible to apply a different finish later. There's a similar product called Teak Wonder which has some pigment that helps block the sun. It last a long time if you can tolerate the rusty color.

Whatever you choose, get something with UV blockers. The best UV blocker is a cover. No matter what you do, I really, really recommend making a cover for it using a breathable material called Sunbrella. It sews reasonably easily and will make your finish much, much longer.
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post #5 of 6 Old 03-27-2017, 09:38 PM
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I'm surprised the linseed oil was gummy. It's one of the hardening oils in oil based finishes. It must have been old. Since you prefer to use an oil finish perhaps tung oil would fill the bill. It is an exterior finish used for hulls of boats in some parts of the world. Another option would be a spar varnish. The best is Epifanes but a bit expensive. A mid range one would be Cabot spar varnish.
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post #6 of 6 Old 03-27-2017, 10:05 PM
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I like a water based exterior product made by General Finishes. It has UV inhibitors in it and comes in several sheens. I used it on some Adirondack chairs I made from white oak. Very easy to apply (I sprayed it), dries quickly between coats and looks nice when done. Nice thing about it is when you do want to renew the swing down the road, all that's required is a cleaning of any dirt on it and a light scuffing. Almost forgot, it's called 450.
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